Hereford America


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Harley Zens

Harley Edward Zens, 73, of Canova passed away peacefully on March 23, 2024 surrounded by his family. Funeral mass will begin at 10:30 am on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at Church of the Epiphany in Epiphany, SD. Visitation will be held Tuesday, March 26 from 5-7 pm with a 7 pm prayer service also at the church.

Harley Zens was born on January 13, 1951 as the oldest of 4 children to Clement and Elsie (Ehlke) Zens. He attended country school near their family farm until its closure after he completed the third grade and then attended St. Mary’s Catholic school in Epiphany, SD through the 8th grade. After parochial school, he attended and graduated from Canova High School in 1969. Following high school, he earned his degree in Architectural Drafting from Mitchell Vo-Tech, which lead to employment at Fullerton’s Lumber Yard in Madison, SD where he remained employed until he returned to the family farm in 1974. He then operated Zens Herefords for the remainder of his life.

On June 26th, 1976, Harley married Ronda Hofer in Huron, SD and this union was blessed with 2 boys, Matthew and Mark. Harley remained active in the farming and cattle operation until the end. He was a lifetime member of the Church of the Epiphany as well as the Catholic Order of Forresters, served on the Pearl Township board as clerk and supervisor for 45 years, served on the Canova school board, the Canova Farmers Elevator Board of Directors, and the SD Cattlemen’s board. He was also a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. as well as the SD Hereford Assn. where he helped spearhead the Mitchell Livestock Hereford influenced sale which has become the largest Hereford sale in the nation.

Harley had a passion for Hereford cattle. The advent of video sales kept him on top of sales across the country. He had prices written down in production sale catalogs from many, many sales for many, many years. He also loved watching baseball and rodeos on TV. If there was ever a question of who was in the top 15 of the world standings, just ask Harley. He would know. He grew up an avid fan of the Milwaukee Braves and loved to tell the story about when he was a young child and got the entire team’s autographs including Hank Aaron and Bob Uecker. Above all, he had a strong faith that never wavered through all the challenges that life dealt him. He rarely complained and with hard work and determination, he just kept plugging away. He also had deep love for his family. His kids and grandkids meant the world to him. He loved watching them play in their various sports and always had a front row seat in his Ranger at the Canova baseball diamonds. He was so proud of all his grandchildren.

Those grateful of sharing his life are: his wife, Ronda; boys, Matthew (Jill) and Mark (Jenny); grandkids, Stratton, Treston and Shaylee and Isaac, Owen and Macy; sisters, LuGene Koepsell and LeAnne (Jay) Cutts; sister-in-law, Kathy Zens; in-laws, Danny (Connie) Hofer and Kerry (Chris) Hofer as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clement and Elsie, in-laws, Joe and Alma Hofer, a brother, Warren Zens, a brother-in-law, Greg Koepsell and a niece, Melissa Zens.